Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God
(Romans 15 v 7)
A church member once complained to me that there were regularly groups of young people skateboarding in our carpark and on the front steps of church and something ought to be done about it. I realised that she was right, so a group of us built a skateboard ramp in the church hall and invited them to skate there instead!
It has been said that the sermon really begins in the car park. To put it another way, people begin to engage with our message well before the preacher starts talking. The welcome we offer is their first impression of what we stand for and the God we represent.
There are all kinds of ways in which churches can improve their welcome and offer hospitality to guests: Special visitor spaces in the car park. Baby changing facilities. Chairs with arms for those who might need a bit of extra support when standing up. Large print Bibles and hymn books for the visually impaired. Signs which give good directions, and noticeboards with up to date information. A website which tells people what your church is like, when the services are and how to get there.
What things does your congregation do to welcome visitors and guests? What do you do to help?
St Paul urged the Romans to be a welcoming people, by remembering the kind of welcome they themselves had received from Jesus.
Today Robert Schnase offers us this prayer and challenge:
Dear Lord, you have embraced me with your unmerited, gracious and everlasting love.
Help me help my congregation to offer that same love to others.
Widen our vision and deepen our commitment to serving you by serving others.
Challenge: Think about three specific ways your congregation reaches out to invite people and welcome newcomers. Think of three ideas about how you could help your congregation do better.